Universal has just announced plans to create a feature film version of the sci-fi magnum opus Battlestar Galactica – before fans of the sci-fi series rejoice, there’s a catch: it’s in no way related to the beloved Syfy Channel series that ran from 2004-2009.
That’s right, the Battlestar Galactica feature film has no ties to Ron Moore or David Eick, the producers of the TV series that created the show’s signature gripping plotting, fascinating characters, and dark, twisted mythology. It’s a completely new take on the property – which means fans can also say goodbye to the show’s cast, which most notably included Academy Award nominees Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell.
The show, itself a remake of 1978-1979 Battlestar Galactica, was a haunting space epic about humanity’s few remaining survivors searching for a home after a nuclear holocaust destroys the planet. The show dealt with incredibly dark, complex themes – like the nature of humanity, especially during wartime. Can a new feature film bring the same depth that the series did? It seems unlikely – simply based on the medium, a feature film can never capture the scope and depth of the television series, both in terms of the show’s long overarching plots as well as its brilliant character arcs. How could two hours possible capture what the show took over seventy episodes to do?
Additionally, since it existed in the science-fiction world, the show was able to get away with social commentary that many shows based in reality could never. For example, the show was nominated for several Emmy Awards for an arc where the show drew clear parallels to the occupation in Iraq. The show discussed religion, politics, and the human condition. What chance is there that there’s a better version of this story to be told? The show was poignant and haunting – to try to top it seems like a fool’s errand. As countless bad Hollywood remakes have shown, if you can’t improve upon the material, maybe it’s best to leave it alone.
This is not the first time an announced remake of a beloved genre property has been met with wariness. Back in 2010, plans were announced to reboot the cult classic television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer into a movie… but without the input of the show’s creator Joss Whedon. Buffy always had an incredibly distinctive tone and a particularly original voice – a voice that could be traced back directly to Whedon himself. Without him onboard, the project seemed like a bad idea. Whedon and several of the show’s cast members went on record saying that it wasn’t something that pleased them, and the project eventually fizzled out, never seeing the light of the day.
On the other hand, when plans were announced to create the second Battlestar Galactica television series, fans of the seventies series had similar reactions. Fans were not amused to discover that the cigar-chomping ladies man Lieutenant Starbuck would now be a female character. Fans sent hate mail and vowed to boycott the show; little did they know that the female Starbuck, played with untethered ferocity and nerve by Katee Sackhoff, would become the show’s standout character and a fan favorite. They had no way of foreseeing that the new Battlestar Galactica would be something so incredible and were quick to rush to judgement. Perhaps it’s best that fans unhappy about the film version take a wait and see approach – after all, maybe this third version of Starbuck will be something beyond what they could have ever imagined.
By: Alex Warheit